“As the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, so the denial of God is the height of foolishness” –R. C. Sproul
Everyone has fears. Maybe you fear things like heights, spiders or the dark. Maybe you fear deeper things, such as abandonment or lack of love. A form of fear that is often misunderstood by Christians is the fear of God.
What does this fear mean? Are we actually called to be afraid of God?
The answer is no. Though we are told to fear the Lord, it’s not meant in the same way as we fear spiders or the dark. Rather, you should have a reverent fear towards the Lord. God is all-powerful, but He is also loving.
Theologian R. C. Sproul says, “As the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, so the denial of God is the height of foolishness.” Here, Sproul is referencing Proverbs 1:7 that states, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
When the Bible talks about this fear of God, it refers to being in awe of Him and His glory. As we continue to learn more about Him and gain knowledge, we should also gain reverence and submission towards Him. Wisdom comes from accurate understanding and awe-inspiring fear of God in all His majesty.
Another theologian, John McArthur, also weighs in on the issue, saying that, “the fear of the Lord is a state of mind in which one’s own attitudes, will, feelings, deeds and goals are exchanged for God’s.” When we see God for who He truly is, we can’t help but be amazed. This fear of God will subsequently change how we live.
On the flip side, as Sproul addresses, denying God’s true nature is ultimate foolishness. In Psalm 19, it states, “The heavens are telling the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” Nature is literally showing God’s presence to creation! When God presents Himself in this way, there is no excuse for not pursuing a relationship with Him. With this in mind, it makes sense that Sproul calls the denial of God foolish. The only way we can resist this fear of God is by consciously choosing to not pursue Him because when we see and experience His true character, we will fall to our knees in reverence.
R. C. Sproul passed away this year, but his legacy will continue through his work and belief that man ought to fear God wholeheartedly, giving Him reign over each and every day.
So next time you are reminded to fear God, understand that you don’t need to be afraid of God, rather, revere Him for His majesty, and the glory that can be seen all around us.
Grand Canyon University is committed to fearing the Lord. If you would like to learn more about GCU’s Christian identity and heritage or would like to read more devotionals please visit our website and check out the GCU Blog.